Making Every Mistake In “The Parenting Book”


open book


Am I going to have to make every single parenting mistake in the book? You know, THE BOOK, the one where sage wisdom is collected. It says stuff like “walk your kids back to their beds when they show up at yours or your lazy ass is gonna have helluva time getting them out.”  That BOOK.

According to the tests of the material in that BOOK, I’m an average student.  And that’s if you grade on a curve.  In reality, I’m sort of below-average and that’s a hard rock for this valedictorian to swallow.

As alluded to above, I have a small child that comes to my bed every night.  He comes when we are already asleep, which means he’s not interfering with “adult” time, but still.  It’s like sleeping with a windmill or an angry judo master.  Chop Chop Chop go his arms and legs all night long.  Jeff and I take turns acting like shields for the other when Simon crawls into bed.

Just walk him back to bed, right? Of course.  Except, that requires me navigating a flight of stairs.  And it’s cold.  And he won’t stay in his room without a battle royale, so screw it.  He says; we get bruised in our sleep.

Then, there’s schedule.  My kids are under five, so of course I know not to overschedule them.  But I did. Oh yes I did, because I got sick of lying around at home watching them fight over toys they ignore until the other one shows interest.  In addition to preschool, I’ve got them in soccer, art, golf, tennis, gymnastics.  It’s insane. It’s not recommended by the BOOK.  In my defense, I’m not building a get-into-college resume; I’m trying to survive the polar vortex.

The BOOK also suggests less snacking so kids will eat meals.  My kids have trained me to get them a snack to tide them over as they walk from the living room to the kitchen.  A twenty-foot walk.  Yessiree, I pack them pretzels or Graham crackers so they can walk to the other end of our modest townhouse.


Bedtimes should be before 8PM? Um, not happening.  Toys should be rotated and selectively displayed for maximum enjoyment? No and no.  Parents should avoid bribing kids for good behavior and compliance?  Well, do stickers, candy and cookies count as bribes?

I’ve created all this. I’m the one who rolls over when Simon shows up at midnight.  I’m the one who signed my kids up for seven park district classes.  I too am guilty of indulging every snack whim no matter how many seconds before dinner they want a whole mango with some full-fat yogurt.  I carry around a cache of goodies with which to bribe them to get into (or out of) the car or to be quiet while I’m on the phone or trying to take a nap.

The mess is mine, all mine.  There’s no one to blame except myself and I gave that up for 2014.  So, I’ll just live with it and accept my mediocre grades.


38 thoughts on “Making Every Mistake In “The Parenting Book”

  1. I can see where having Simon join you in bed every night is a problem. But how much of the other stuff that you all a “mess” is really a mess? Are these truly problems or do they not match up with the ideals in THE BOOK?

  2. Ha ha ha ha. Screw The Book. We’ve clung to a few things that work for our lifestyle, and the rest falls at the wayside. Grandma keeps asking when they’ll be “done” with their pacifiers. Right about the time they stop being an effective way to keep us all from loosing our shit 15 minutes to dinnertime, Mom. And not a second before that.

  3. Screw the book. It’s not helping any of us. You had me at snacks. First kid almost never in our bed. Second kid offered plenty of opportunity to co-sleep. And I’m not a co-sleeper. Until it’s 2am and I can’t bear to pad down the hall to put her back in bed. And sometimes that still happens. She’s 10. Hubs & I have both spent some partial nights in her twin bed for the greater good. And the activities…the book writers obviously don’t live in the frozen tundra. Whatever it takes to keep everyone alive until April. Also park district is economical enough to skip a few. Don’t sweat it. You’re such a great mom.

  4. You know what I love about this post? The reminder that there is no universal book. Some experts will tell you to welcome Simon into your family bed with open arms. Some others would tell you it will ruin your marriage. Common sense tells you it’s a sleep murderer. My daughter is going through the same thing as Simon and I know I don’t want it to last forever but right now I’m sort of weirdly enjoying it. I’m in a place where I’m acutely aware how fast they grow up. She will be on the phone in her room chatting with her friends all night before I know it. Plus, she usually hugs me and spends the night scissor kicking Ian so it’s not so bad for me! Do what works and adjust as they get older and you get feedback — that’s my plan!

  5. I have been thinking about this one lately! I wrote a post about whether you can learn parenting from a book…I think that actually you can just do it your way and then find a book to back you up, as they all say different things anyway. That’s the way to survive motherhood! Your kids sound very funny, I like them needing a snack to get to the dining room 🙂

  6. I feel for you sleeping with a kid. Mara comes in and says “can I sleep on your back, mama.” Half-awake and not ready to argue i always say yes and forget to ask her in the AM why, in gods name, sleeping on my back is a good idea … for either of us.

  7. I love this post! I’m probably a C student in this area myself. I am pretty strict about some stuff, like meals, snacks, and bedtime. But I have definitely bribed my children (it’s called “an incentive,” right? That sounds better!), and let them sleep in my bed (especially when they were nursing infants). And my biggest fail is not insisting earlier that they pick up their own toys. I pick up a lot of damn toys because of that. Oh well. Nobody’s perfect!

  8. Yep! I am in same boat. Said I’d never bribe, said I’d walk her back to bed. Then I said, if she gets me up at 5, I will not give her juice, which will encourage her to go back to bed because there will be no juice so might as well sleep, right? One time I broke the rule and she did go back to bed! But that’s never happened again and now she EXPECTS juice. Sigh.

  9. Parenting is a tough job so it makes sense why we are so critical of ourselves. But, there is no right way and the books are simply guidelines. I’m a firm believer of doing the best for yourself and your kids. You can only do what you can do and every parent and every child is different. I don’t know why we think we need to follow THE book. I’m just as guilty of feeling that way.

  10. I am a firm believer in doing what needs to be done to get things done. There is no other way. I need sleep, I need to work, I need to take care of the house. We do plenty of good stuff, but there’s plenty of stuff that goes against the BOOK. You’re right – we all need to just let it go.

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